Kingly Ambitions
Solemnity of Christ the King

Antonio P. Pueyo
Reproduced with Permission

Who likes to be king? As the song goes, who wants to be “king of the hill, top of the heap, A-number 1?” I once met a king. He claims to be the king of America. He lives in an insane asylum. He must be suffering from frustration of kingly ambitions.

Action starter: “To serve, not to be served.”

Being a king is not easy. There is always somebody who desires to topple the ruler. There is always an aspirant to the throne. Kings live in prisons of their own making. They have to act, dress, and talk like kings. They spend their lives under public scrutiny. They are surrounded by guards and courtiers.

Despite all these, the king remains a powerful symbol. A king is one who is strong. His wish becomes a command. What he wants, he gets. Thus, some people harbor the desire to be kingly, if not actually a king. The days of monarchy are behind us, but in some way, people still entertain kingly ambitions.

What then do we celebrate on this solemnity of Christ the King? The King whom we honor today completely goes against our traditional understanding of what a king should be. He wears a crown of thorns. He rests on a wooden cross. He is clothed with blood. His acclamations are shouts of insults. He is surrounded by a hateful crowd. Nobody could be lower than this king. The prophet Isaiah describes him, “There was in him no stately bearing to make us look at him, nor appearance that would attract us to him. He was spurned and avoided by men, a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity, one of those from whom men hide their faces, spurned, and we held him in no esteem.” (Isaiah 53:2-4)

This counter-image of a king has attracted some people. Blessed Charles the Foucauld who spent his ministry among poor desert people chose to follow Jesus because no one else could be lower. Jesus chose the lowest place and nobody could take it away from him. As one song describes, Jesus went from heaven to earth, from the earth to the cross, from the cross to the grave. Jesus moved from the highest to the lowest place. And the Father glorified Him. The Church too glorifies Him – by bestowing on Jesus the title of Christ the King. This the Church does on the last Sunday of the liturgical year, symbolizing Christ’s dominion over time. He is the Alpha and the Omega.

Rightly so, Jesus is Lord and King. He is the king of the whole creation. Let us remember though that in order to raise up the whole of creation to the Father, He sought the lowest place.